Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A while back in a Range Day post I indicated 'more to come';

here 'tis.

I don't have an AR15. Thought about it a few times, but A: expense and B: another cartridge. Which got kind of hard to find for a while there, as well as the price going up. Well, last month Dad came up for a gun show, and when we broke for lunch we went over to H&H to check for reloading gear(they've expanded what they carry a lot) and Dad wanted to see one of the S&W .22 rimfire rifles. They had two. Dad looked one over and bought it; and due to circumstances(like not much at the show, and I had some retirement money left), I made one of the sillier buys ever.

So I have a S&W M&P 15-22 rifle.

Few days later I had time to hit the range, so gathered up some of every .22 ammo I had and tried it out.
It's quite accurate. With two of the brands(Centurion and Federal 36-grain hollowpoints) I got several 1" and less groups at 50 yards.
Good sights. Front & rear will take off the rail if you want to mount optics, and the rear has both large and small apertures.
Good trigger. It's not a match rifle, trigger's a bit heavy and there's a touch of creep; on the latter, little enough that unless you're on a rest and looking for such you wouldn't notice it.
Fun to shoot.
But ran into one problem: 3-5 times out of every magazine an empty wouldn't eject from the receiver, it'd stay in and block the bolt from closing. Which might be fine for practicing failure drills, but otherwise it's a pain in the ass. Especially if you got it for target and general plinking use. This didn't help shooting for groups either, as I kept trying to see if the empty ejected, which takes away from concentration on the sights.

There's always the chance that it was a break-in thing, so I ran a bit over 200 rounds through, cleaned and lubed it at home and waited for another range day. Where it did the same thing, with all five brands of ammo*. So I called S&W, they e-mailed a shipping label and off it went.

It came back a touch over two weeks from the time they received it. AND they threw in two new magazines. I gathered ammo for it and some other stuff and headed to H&H.

All the letter that came with it said was "Repaired: Updated to latest spec.", so no idea just what they did. Whatever it was, it ran through everything with no failures except one Remington that got the rim caught in the magazine top in a very weird way; I have to lay that one on the magazine or some oddity with that cartridge, and it didn't happen again. More than 200 rounds, all ejecting with no problem. Actually, it was better than before in another way: before originally it didn't much like Remington Golden Bullet ammo, which often wouldn't feed properly; now the stuff ran right through.

Overall, I like the thing. It's light, handy, fun to shoot(now) and surprisingly accurate; with ammo it likes and a scope I think I can consistently get groups under an inch at 50. And if you have an AR, since the controls are the same it's a good practice rifle with much cheaper ammo**. I'm told most AR accessories will fit***; be interesting if they'd threaded the muzzle, as this thing would be fun with a suppressor(of course, any good gunsmith with a lathe could take care of that for you; I know the NFA permit is $200, what's a good .22 suppressor cost?).

That's the original post I put together. Since then I've had it to the range another time with probably another 200-250 rounds through(don't you love .22's?) I had one FTF(again with Remington Golden Bullet; it's the only brand it's had any feeding problems with) and no other problems. It was windy as hell and gusting, so it was hard to get really good groups(for me, anyway), but the accuracy of the thing continues to impress; I really need to put a scope on it for some accuracy tests. I also noticed that when it was zeroed at 50 yards with the large aperture, the small aperture put it dead-on at 100, which is nice; and even with all the wind I had no trouble keeping all shots in a 6" bull at 100, which for me with combat-type iron(well, plastic) sights ain't bad.

I will compliment S&W customer service: there was no BS or argument, heard what the problem was, got my e-mail for the return label, told me to include the ammo information in my cover letter and that was it. It was taken care of and shipped back quickly, which if you do have a problem is what you want. I will, however, advise you to call if you need help; I tried their customer service e-mail twice before I called, and never got a reply. I don't know if they don't check it or what, but it's a pain, and they do need to fix that.

So that's the 'more that was coming'. I will add that Dad has had no problems with his, so I guess I- same as with the Trailside- am the guy who got The one with Problems.

*I used Centurion, Federal hollowpoints, Winchester 36-grain hollowpoints, Remington GB and Federal Champion. The GB I already mentioned; the Winchester and Champion didn't have enough oomph to consistently cycle the action(as in 'almost never', making it a straight-pull bolt rifle). The Centurion and Federal hp both gave the best groups.(After the repairs, it shoots the Champion with some FTF, but the Winchester 36-grain still won't cut it)

**Dad took his to the range when he qualified and tried it out; the rangemaster runs training for the local PD and went nuts over it; he wants a few for training.

*** Salesman at H&H said one of the guys there put in a AR15 match trigger; dropped right in and doubled the cost of the rig right there.

No comments: